Pressure from Russian forces continues as the anniversary of Ukraine approaches

By SUSIE BLANN ; Edited by News Gate Team

Ukraine (AP) , As Moscow gathers more fighting might there in preparation for an anticipated invasion in the coming weeks, Russian forces are tying down Ukrainian troops with attacks in the eastern Donbas region, according to Ukrainian officials on Monday.

According to Ukraine’s presidential office, fierce combat that has been going on for weeks has persisted in the area of Bakhmut and the surrounding villages of Soledar and Vuhledar.

They are situated in the Donetsk region, which together with the nearby Luhansk region forms the industrial Donbas region bordering Russia.

Donetsk Governor Pavlo Kyrylenko stated in televised remarks that “the fights for the region are heating up” and added that “the Russians are sending more units into the war and destroying our towns and villages.”

Gov. Serhii Haidai claimed that the reason for the decrease in shelling in Luhansk was that “the Russians have been storing ammunition for a large-scale offensive.”

According to military analysts, the Kremlin’s forces may be testing Ukrainian defenses for weak spots or may be staging a prelude to a major offensive into southern Ukraine.

According to Vadym Skibitsky, a spokesman for Ukrainian military intelligence, Russia may launch offensives in the east and south. According to his forecast, Russia will probably continue its offensive in the Donbas and may even conduct an attack in the southern Zaporizhzhia area.

While he did not specify a potential start date for the operation, he did mention that the Russian military would require an additional few months to finish the training of new battalions.

Skibitsky continued, “In addition to the 300,000 deployed in the fall, Russia wants to mobilize another 300,000-500,000.”

At the same time as Ukraine is preparing for a Russian offensive, David Arakhamia, the leader of Zelenskyy’s Servant of the People party in parliament, declared on Sunday that it will launch a counterattack to retake its captured area.

The chief of military intelligence, Kyrylo Budanov, will take Oleksii Reznikov’s place as Ukraine’s defense minister, according to Arakhamia, who noted that “time and circumstances call for strengthening and regrouping.” Arakhamia, however, dramatically reversed direction on Monday and declared that there would be no upheaval this week.

In light of the assessment of “risks for the system as a whole” in advance of the meeting with NATO partners next week, according to Mariana Bezuhla, a politician for the Servant of the People party, officials decided to delay the reshuffle.

Due to Zelenskyy’s campaign against corruption, one of Reznikov’s deputies just lost his position. Over the weekend, Reznikov declared that he was prepared to resign if Zelenskyy thought it would be better.

Vladimir Putin, the president of Russia, is eager to celebrate the anniversary of his invasion on February 24 by securing illegally acquired territory in eastern Ukraine.

Russian forces made progress in the early stages of the conflict, but they were unable to secure crucial goals and were ultimately driven back from vast swaths of territory by a Ukrainian counteroffensive.

To repel a far larger military force, Kyiv has relied heavily on Western military assistance.

The government of Norway intends to give 75 billion kroner ($7.3 billion) to Ukraine over a number of years, making the oil-rich Scandinavian nation one of the top donors in the world.

Following parliamentary approval, the funds will be utilized for a five-year program of military and civilian assistance, according to Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Stre.

Late Sunday night, Canadian Defense Minister Anita Anand tweeted that the first Leopard tank that Canada is giving to Ukraine had arrived in Poland. It is a component of a larger effort by Ukraine’s Western supporters to aid in its victory over Russia.

Anand announced that the Ukrainian military’s tank-use training would start “soon,” as the allies race to prepare Ukraine’s forces for the impending offensive.

At least one civilian had been killed and ten others had been injured by Russian shelling in the last 24 hours, according to the presidential office of Ukraine on Monday.

Russian munitions targeted residential structures and a university in Kharkiv city, injuring five of them, according to the presidential office.

Russian forces once more fired at targets from the Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, hitting homes and electricity lines in Nikopol and Marhanets, according to Ukrainian authorities.

Early in the conflict, Russian forces took Zaporizhzhia, the largest nuclear power facility in Europe, and ongoing bombardment of the region fueled serious safety concerns.

Rafael Grossi, the director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, plans to “continue his meetings aimed at negotiating and implementing a nuclear safety and security protection zone” around the plant, according to IAEA spokesperson Fredrik Dahl.

According to U.N. humanitarian director Martin Griffiths, since the war began, approximately 8 million Ukrainians have fled to neighboring nations, and 5.3 million more are internally displaced. On Monday, he informed the U.N. Security Council that 17.6 million Ukrainians, or over 40% of the population, require humanitarian aid.

Griffiths announced that he will make a $3.9 billion appeal later this month in Geneva to assist more than 11 million people.

By SUSIE BLANN ; Edited by News Gate Team

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